Aug. 22, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Several local lawmakers announced today that a Woodside playground is getting a $3 million makeover that would add several new features and clearly delineate the children’s section.
Hart playground, located at 37th Avenue and 65th Street, has been the site of controversy over the last few years as many parents have expressed concerns about day laborers congregating outside the play area and the homeless using the bathrooms.
The park will be completely revamped, and will specifically be divided into sections for children and adults, according to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
The funding for the renovation was put together in collaboration between Van Bramer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and the Parks Department.
“This will allow us to totally restore this playground and make it a more inviting place for toddlers, to separate toddlers from the older children, and allow for the adults to use the park in a nicer way than they currently do now,” said Queens Park Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.
The groundbreaking of the park is expected to begin in about two years, said Lewandowski, though the planning process will begin this winter. It will begin with a public scoping meeting to hear the thoughts of the community, and following the meeting, the designer will put ideas together and contracts will be drawn up. Lewandowski explained that projects like these usually take about three years from start to finish.
Katz explained that the renovation of Hart Playground had been a high priority for Community Board 2 for many years, and that she and Van Bramer worked together to finally find the funds to “make sure that it really is the park that the neighborhood deserves.”
“We want to make sure that all the children of Woodside have the ability to play in this playground with the most modern equipment so they’re safe and they’re enjoying it,” Van Bramer said.
Though final plans are not drawn up, Van Bramer spoke to what he hopes to see done with the $2.7 million budget. He said that he hopes to replace all the old equipment and completely resurface the park to get rid of cracks in the pavement and hopefully make it safer for kids if they fall.
He also said that he would like to divide the park in to sections, rather than the fairly open layout it currently has, with one section where only children and their accompanying adults are allowed, and the other section open to the general public. He added that he would also like to see the sprinkler system replaced and some new plantings around the park.
“This is literally the last block of my district,” Van Bramer said, “but every single block in my district is important to me, every single park is important to me, every single part of Woodside is important and so we’re here today to make good on our promise that we represent every single block of our district.”
Katz also pointed out that the park is named after “a true public servant,” Brigadier General Joseph T. Hart, who not only served in World War II, but also worked at the Queen Borough President’s office and worked to improve Queens.